Hundreds of thousands of phone calls to the new police non-emergency 101 number are going unanswered, figures from forces in England and Wales suggest.
The number was introduced for people to report crimes such as drug dealing, car theft and property damage.
But people hung up or were disconnected before a reply 496,000 times between January and October 2012 – 4% of calls.
Thirty out of the 44 police forces provided information to the BBC after a Freedom of Information Act request.
But not every force supplied all the details requested.
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